Prickly skin, a feeling that you're being watched or there's someone standing right behind (when there isn't) and a drop in temperature are all the hallmarks that you are in the presence of the "other side". In Miami there are certain places where you're more likely to have these encounters.
Horror movies set the expectation that paranormal experiences happen only in abandoned buildings covered in ivy and flanked by naked trees in the dead of winter. But ghosts don’t discriminate. They can also linger in the scorching heat and stifling humidity of Miami. Mysterious and ghastly deaths, suicides, and murders, ever popular in Magic City history, are rife with phantasmagorical potential. Paul George, the resident historian at HistoryMiami, and Marlene Pardo Pellicer, a paranormal researcher, share their stories of the most haunted places in the 305.
1. Alfred I. duPont Building. One of the first skyscrapers in Miami, the Alfred I. duPont Building was constructed on the site of the demolished Hotel Halcyon from 1937 to 1939. This October 28, paranormal investigator Marlene Pellicer will lead a tour of the duPont, hosted by Exile Books in partnership with Lemon Yellow and the Downtown Development Authority. The tour will be accompanied by the release of a zine made with heat-sensitive paper designed for documentation of supernatural encounters.
Because of its rich and long history, the duPont Building has plenty of stories to tell. In 1963, Grant Stockdale, a businessman and friend of President John F. Kennedy's, died after falling from the 13th floor ten days after JFK's assassination. Whether he jumped or was pushed still remains a mystery. He landed on machinery on the fifth floor. Pellicer says she and another woman in the room had an unusual feeling when they visited the floor during a preliminary investigation.
Through conversations with staff at the duPont, Pellicer is researching several other claims about supernatural occurrences. A maintenance man and a cleaning lady have reported seeing a mysterious man and woman who vanish at a second glance. Some of the floors of the duPont are no longer used, but there have been reports of running faucets in bathrooms. In addition, a technician in a group of workers repairing the air-conditioning on the second floor said that when he opened a unit, he saw a badly burnt man’s face that soon disappeared. The men were so spooked they wrote an incident report.
2. The Biltmore Hotel. In the 1929, gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was fatally shot at the Biltmore over a gambling dispute. Rumor is that his ghost haunts the hotel, especially the bar, where the glasses and bottles on the shelves have reportedly shaken mysteriously. Known as a man of indulgence who enjoyed Cuban cigars and women, Fatty is said to still wander the hotel and play tricks on staff and guests. His apparition has been seen on the 13th floor, where he was killed, and in bathroom mirrors throughout the hotel. The mysterious scent of cigar smoke, presumably a manifestation of Fatty, has been reported to follow attractive women around the Biltmore.
Paranormal investigators say Fatty is a cooperative and friendly spirit. But he might not be the only soul wandering the hotel's halls. A decade after Walsh’s murder, in the 1930s, eyewitnesses reported that a woman walking in front of the Biltmore mysteriously disappeared. More recently, members of the kitchen staff claimed to have seen mysteriously swinging doors and inexplicable noises. The next time you visit the Biltmore — for the hotel's annual Halloween party perhaps — pay attention to any mysterious smells, sounds, or movements: You might have attracted the attention of a gangster ghost!
3. The Deering Estate. The sprawling 444-acre Deering Estate is a hotbed of paranormal activity, experts say. In fact, the estate holds two ghost tours to share the experience with visitors. The Historic Ghost Stories tour leads guests along the paths walked by Native Americans and Charles Deering, the estate’s owner, who died onsite in 1925. During one visit, a psychic said she heard the voice of a woman begging for help to save the life of a drowning child.
For those prepared to fully commit to diving into the depths of the ghost world, the estate offers the Spookover, where a group of volunteer paranormal investigators leads guests on an overnight tour to the most active areas of the estate. The Spookover encourages visitors to bring their own equipment that can detect spectral presences. October's Spookover has already taken place, but year-round ghost hunters can grab their pendulums, dowsing rods, EMF meters, voice recorders, and cameras and get ready to witness some bone-chilling activity at the beginning of the new year.
4. Miami City Cemetery. Founded in 1987, this is the oldest and only municipal cemetery in Miami-Dade County. Historian Paul George, whose birthday falls on Halloween, leads an annual walking tour of the cemetery for HistoryMiami. He doesn't believe in ghosts, but he admits some inexplicably spooky things have happened during his tours. Once, a man interrupted George’s introduction by laying a carved-out heart of an animal at the base of a tree as a Santería sacrifice.
The body of Julia Tuttle, the “Mother of Miami,” in interred at this cemetery. The bodies of the founder of the Burdines department store chain and Miami’s first and third mayors also rest here. Though any graveyard can be creepy, Miami City Cemetery has one especially strange grave, that of Carrie Barrett Miller. After her death, Miller’s husband placed her body in the grave and poured concrete over her. The tombstone reads, “The body of Carrie Barrett Miller was moulded in this solid block of concrete. December 4th 1926. After the body has gone to dust, her sleeping form will remain.” Creepy.
5. Villa Paula. Villa Paula was Miami’s first Cuban consulate for Consul Domingo J. Milford. The villa, located in Little Haiti and built in 1926 in a neoclassical style, has ten bedrooms and 18-foot ceilings. The villa currently functions as an art gallery and exhibition space. However, in addition to being known for its beautiful design, the mansion has been rumored to be among the most haunted places in Miami.
The house was named for Milford’s wife Paula, who allegedly died at a young age from complications after a leg amputation. Paula’s ghost, appearing as a one-legged woman with black hair, has been seen wandering the halls. A former owner has said he often smelled brewing coffee and fresh roses when there were none to be seen. Paula reportedly liked keeping a vase of roses in the house.
One man said he had some bizarre experiences while he lived at Villa Paula. Once, he said, a friend came to visit and fell asleep. Upon waking from her nap, she was possessed by the spirit of Paula and talked to him about her life. So when you visit the villa to check out the current art exhibition, keep your eyes peeled for some ghostly whisperings — and try to stay awake.
6. Pinewood Cemetery. Located in Coral Gables, Pinewood is the oldest cemetery south of the Miami River. The last known burial in the cemetery was in the 1940s, after which the site became overgrown and vandalized. Buried here is the body of Mrs. Dora Suggs, who was violently killed when she was 29 years old. According to a 1905 St. Lucia Tribune article titled “Foul Murder Near Miami,” Suggs had been raped, choked, and mutilated, and her head had been crushed with a heavy object. She was found in the woods near a banana tree. The murder was never solved. If you visit Pinewood Cemetery, be sure to stop by Suggs’ headstone and pay your respects. Maybe her spirit will enlist your help to find her killer.
source - Miami New Times
Marlene at Miami Ghost Chronicles is a freelance writer and paranormal researcher.
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